Janet Malotky

Spotlight: Ascension / Whale / Post-Apocalyptic Lotus


When at last
it tilted worse to land than leave
what happened was this: the birds
snipped their gravitational strands.

They took two or three or five final
wing strokes heavenward
and on that momentum traveled,
up and out.

Kingdom, Phylum,
Class: Aves
the birds folded splendor,
resisted iridescence,
overrode any hints of song.
They closed their eyes above the cumulus,
did not look back,
froze solid in rising,
and rose,
an airborne march of billions.

Lamented as they passed
by sundog, aurora, diamond dust,
they sailed into darkness
beyond atmosphere’s reach,
then drifted out,
a debris field in the silence of space,
a marker.

It was not predicted.
All were bent upon
the other forms of mass extinction.
But now
in retrospect,
in the catastrophic mourning,
it can be understood.
This was earth’s
death leavening,
with all that remains



The last whale rose, turned and
scrolled its barnacled flank
against the skin of the sea.

It skimmed, inscrutable eye
tilted to the night
and compared with the stars
its map of the deep.

The whale breached,
bared contours
to intoxicating light,
and measured by gravitational forces
unmitigated by the sea
its significance in the world of living things.

The last whale dove,
three hundred thousand pounds,
down the thermocline,
and shed its visible form
into the darkening gradient.

While the surface far above
composed its veiling rhythms,
the last whale swam
in displacement’s dark sleeve.
And its motion drove a dream of longing
that pinged into the deep.


Post-apocalyptic Locust

In this year,
I leave tree’s root,
push through the dark hug,
the snug dirt,
dig to light.

This is the day I recall gravity:
scale bark,
shuck cramped shell,
pump stiff wings.
This is the hour I fly.

I drum my tymbals.
Drum and drum and drum
and listen for an answer.
Drum and drum and listen
for an answer.
and listen
for an answer.
Drum and drum and drum
and listen for an answer.


Janet MalotkyJanet Malotky lives a life submersed in language, by day as a speech/language pathologist and by night as a poet. She is especially drawn to the mysteries at the intersection of science, language, and the inner human experience. Her work has been published most recently in Dulcet Quarterly, Pure Slush, and Silver Birch Press.

Photo by Angie Aird-Williams